Wojciech Hermeliński, retired judge of the Constitutional Tribunal, retired at the Wednesday session of the Senate’s special committee. The former head of the Polish Military Contingent assessed that if the surveillance of KO Senator Krzysztof Brejza was confirmed, it “could undoubtedly have an impact on the result of the elections” in 2019.
Another meeting of the Senate’s extraordinary committee on the matter was held on Wednesday Pegasus surveillance. The senators listened to the patron Roman Giertychand then a retired judge of the Constitutional Tribunal, former head of the National Electoral Commission, Wojciech Hermeliński.
Hermeliński on Brejza’s surveillance: it could have had an impact on the election result
The chairman of the committee, senator of the Civic Coalition, Marcin Bosacki, asked Hermeliński about the case of the senator of the Civic Coalition Krzysztof Brejza. According to a group of researchers from Citizen Lab, the senator was under surveillance 33 times before the 2019 parliamentary elections, when he was head of the KO election campaign.
The former head of the Polish Military Contingent, when asked if the actions consisting in collecting data in key moments of the campaign from the chief of staff of the party running in the elections and the opposition were proven, it would have an impact on the assessment of their conduct, their honesty and validity, he replied that “if the surveillance was confirmed by Senator Brejza’s Pegasus device, who played an important role during the elections and obtaining such information by the services, is most likely (…) in my opinion it could undoubtedly have an impact on the election result “. “It could have distorted this election result in some way,” he added. He noted, however, that “now the matter of these elections, during which Senator Brejza was overheard, is behind us”. – There’s nothing you can do anymore. (…) There is no possibility of resuming the proceedings – added Hermeliński.
He also recalled that the resolution of the Supreme Court concerning the last parliamentary elections did not refer to the course of the campaign, but only to the voting and counting of votes. – There are several judgments of the Supreme Court in which the Court tries to take into account also those earlier election procedures, but ultimately comes to the conclusion that it is bound by article 82 of the Electoral Code (which regulates the issue of filing election protests – editor’s note) and very much has a narrow view of it, ‘added the judge.
– Undoubtedly, actions of this kind, such as the surveillance of Senator Brejza, who plays an important role during the elections, can be said to have an impact on the election result. The only question is how to make the Supreme Court decide in its resolution that such violations of the law, if clearly justified in the protests, are so important that they are the basis for the annulment of the election – said Hermeliński. He added that “with the current legal status it is quite unlikely”.
Hermeliński: I do not want to say unequivocally that I am convinced that the next elections will be unfair
Asked by senators whether legal parliamentary elections are possible in the future, during the current government, he said that “he does not want to say unequivocally that he is convinced that the elections that will take place will be unfair, not based on the constitution, will not be equal elections. “. He added that I hope they will be fair and equal. “On the other hand, what has happened now (…) does not bode well,” said Hermeliński.
He judged that “if a representative, or party leader, or head of the election campaign of one of the parties that are candidates or represent, propose their candidates for the office of president, deputy or senator, or even in local elections, is attacked in this way, it is it is obvious that such actions are so grossly contrary to the legal order that they must be stigmatized in the form of, it seems to me, the annulment of elections. ”
Hermeliński on the acceptance of operational control. “Some say: but the court is in control. It is an illusion.”
Hermeliński also referred to the issue of prosecutor’s requests submitted to the court with a request to approve the planned operational control.
– Here, even when we talk about Pegasus, it does not really matter in my opinion, because the judge who receives the prosecutor’s request does not know whether the technical means leading to the operational control will be Pegasus, whether there will be some telephone wiretapping or some other device. – said the former judge of the Constitutional Tribunal.
He added that “unfortunately the Supreme Court contributed a little to this”. – In a judgment from 2008 he said that if it is not possible to indicate to the court the name of the person against whom operational control is to be carried out, it is enough to write in the application “telephone holder” – he said. He added that the operator’s number is not even given, only the technical number assigned to each telephone is given. – What will the judge infer from this? he asked rhetorically.
– The court accepts what it gets. If there is no gross error, no offense that is not subject to any operational control, instead of a provision that falls within the scope of the service’s activities, the court will accept such a request, because there are no grounds for refusing – said the former head of the Polish Military Contingent.
– This control is an illusion. Some say: but the court does control. This is an illusion, he assessed.
Hermeliński: The Supreme Court should state that the elections could not be fair and should be repeated
Hermeliński, when asked at the end of the meeting by Bosacki if, in his opinion, it is possible to agree with the statement that the elections in 2019, although not rigged, were not fair, said that “you can say that”.
Main photo source: PAP / Tomasz Gzell